Recap: Bo Pelini's awkward interview with Bill King

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Wednesday October 30, 2013

Bo Pelini visited with radio host Bill King on Wednesday morning to talk about the current state of the Nebraska football program.

Anyone who listened would have to agree the interview was “awkward.”

Coming off a disappointing loss at Minnesota on Saturday, Pelini is once again under scrutiny.

Former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier to tweet, “Do I need to say anymore?” Frazier also tweeted, “Where do we go from here Husker nation?”

King, who has a terrific relationship with Pelini, noted that he was ‘surprised at the presentation in Minneapolis.’

Pelini responded, “We started off really well. You always want to start well, but it almost played against us.  We played fast.  After we got going, we simply let down.  I knew we were going to be walking into a hornet’s nest the way their game the week before was.  We led them 10-0 and just kind of let them back in the game. Early, there were a lot of self-imposed things: missed tackles, bust a coverage, and the next thing you it’s 10-7, they have momentum and the place is getting juice.”

King asked if Pelini ever considered pulling Taylor Martinez.

Pelini responded, “Why would I have done that?  (Pause) Taylor didn’t play a bad football game.  He wasn’t why we lost the game, so no, there wasn’t any thought of that.”

King noted, ‘Defensively, you almost gave up almost 300 yards rushing and that was an issue, too.’

Rather than rattle off excuses, Pelini kept his response very short:  “We missed tackles and we didn’t play well.”

The response indicated Pelini wasn’t exactly in a great mood and created a level of awkwardness, so King didn’t press Pelini. Instead, he changed the subject and asked, “So what’s the energy like and the feeling of the team as you prepare for Northwestern?”

Pelini responded, “Good.  Really good.  We’re exactly in the same spot we were a year ago.  Don’t like it, but we were here a year ago and we ended up taking care of our business.  It’s what we do going forward.  We’re in control of our own destiny over the next five weeks.  Our guys understand that.”

Pelini noted the players bounce back pretty well: “You have to move on.  You have to learn from it and you got to move forward.  It stings.  It hurts them.  You can see our guys are anxious to get back out there playing.  We better be ready to go.  I think we are.  I think our guys are ready to play.  I don’t care how many games Northwestern has lost in the last couple of weeks, they are a good football team.  They are very capable.”

King changed the subject and said, “Here’s something that I get from fans from time to time and I’m just going to relay it to you.  They say Bo does not look like he’s happy this year.  Are you good with where you’re at this year or is there something going on?”

Pelini: “What do you mean? (Pause)”

King: “I just hear Bo doesn’t look like he’s happy with the situation at Nebraska.”

Pelini: “Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  You know, I’m very happy.”

King: “So everything is good there; it’s business as usual at Nebraska?”

Pelini: “It’s interesting, you either get criticized for being too boisterous on the sideline or now I’m not happy.”

King: “Maybe you’ve pulled back a little bit and then you’re going to get criticized because may it looks like you’re not trying.  I guess that’s part of being the Big Red coach.”

Pelini: “Yea, no doubt.  You know, I don’t read into all that stuff.  I am who I am.  I’ve probably been more talkative in press conferences than I ever have been.”

King: “I remember some of those early years when the media would surround you in the summer and you would get pretty chippy at times.  You’re not doing that as much.”

Pelini: “No, it’s part of the job.  You grow into it.  Like I said, I haven’t changed.”


My take: Nobody says a coach should be overly enthusiastic during all of his interviews, but Pelini isn’t creating allies. A coach that is often defensive in a poor tone wears on fans.  The fact is, winning in college football is tough.  Nebraska is 5-2 and the Huskers could end up with another solid season when all is said and done.  Minnesota is a better football team than many people realize, but Pelini’s lack of ability to create allies due to his personality reminds me in a way of why Lane Kiffin eventually lost his job at USC. It wouldn’t be right for Pelini to think people are unfairly criticizing him.  Bill King is for Pelini; I’m for Pelini, but there’s no question that winning and how Pelini interacts with the media over the next several weeks will weigh heavily in Nebraska's decision to move forward with Pelini as the Huskers head coach.

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Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest